You’ve probably had a time or two where a song comes on the stereo and it quickly changes your mood. For years, music has been shown to have the power to move human emotion, aid with concentration, relaxation and stress relief and encourage body movement. However, until recently there wasn’t much research that showed how and why these physiological changes occurred.
Chinese researchers at the Zhejiang University of Medicine ran a set of experiments to see what a popular fast paced, dance style song had on the brain by using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (or FMRI) machines to see what changes occurred in the brain from the song being played. What they found seemed to make sense of some of the reports people have given over the years about how they feel while listening to music.
For example, there were significantly increased fMRI BOLD signals found in the following areas:
The Superior Temporal Cortices- These are involved in the processing of visual and auditory input, as well as in the function of language.
The Left Cerebellum- This is the area of the hindbrain that controls movement coordination, balance, equilibrium and muscle tone. The cerebellum contains hundreds of millions of neurons for processing data. It relays information between body muscles and areas of the cerebral cortex that are involved in movement control.
The Left Putamen- This regulates the release of dopamine, which is the brain’s pleasure chemical. The putamen also plays a role in modulation of other neurotransmitters needed for concentration and cognitive function. It releases GABA, encephalin, substance P, and acetylcholine. It receives serotonin and glutamate. Most these neurotransmitters also play a role in movement control.
The Right Thalamus Cortex- The thalamus is a part of the brain with several functions such as relaying of sensory and motor signals to the cerebral cortex and the regulation of consciousness, sleep, and alertness.
The take home message from this study is that music can be a great tool to instantly improve your brain function and subsequently improve your body function. Fast paced music seems to be best if you are exercising, playing sports or doing anything else that requires coordination and energy. Use slow paced music for relaxation.
Ok, so do you want to know the exact song that the researchers used in their study?
This song originated in South Korea, but because of its extremely catchy beat (eliciting all those pleasurable effects on each listeners brain), its somewhat off the wall video antics and its sheer obscurity, it went on the become the most viewed music video the world has ever seen.
At the time of this writing, YouTube alone lists it as having over 2.8 BILLION views. The name of the song is “Gagnum Style” and if you haven’t seen or heard it before, it’s totally worth checking out. It’s good for a few laughs too!
Watch the video by clicking here- Gagnum Style music video
Source- National Institute of Health website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28083689/?i=30&from=music%20brain